Saturday, October 26, 2013

Funeral Card Friday: Elizabeth Stoner Ellsworth of Humberstone, Ontario

I know it's Saturday, but I had the idea on Friday, so this is still my Funeral Card Friday post.

This lovely funeral card commemorates the passing of my 4th great-grandmother Elizabeth Stoner Ellsworth. Elizabeth was born into a Mennonite family on 22 January, 1831 in Bertie Township, Ontario, which is in the Niagara Peninsula. All the information I have on her is from my grandmother's family history files, but judging from online information the family seems to be fairly well-researched. I would of course like to verify all the information myself eventually. The Stoner family seems to have emigrated from Lancaster, PA to Ontario during the Revolutionary War era. The Mennonite Historical Society of Ontario published a good article on the emigration of Quakers and Mennonites to the area, "The Lost Tribes of Niagara Plainfolk" by Harold Nigh (1986), which mentions the Stoner family and the related Neff family.

Elizabeth Stoner married a Quaker, John Moore Ellsworth. In the 1891 Census of Canada, the couple continued to identify themselves by their separate religious affiliations, which must have been important to them. I have a photo of John Moore Ellsworth, but I do not have one of Elizabeth. Hopefully one will turn up someday. I believe those are white bellflowers depicted on the funeral card, which, according to some sources on 19th-century flower meanings may have symbolized constancy and gratitude.

Entered Into Rest
At Humberstone Township, Ont., on Friday
November 16, 1917
Relict of the late John Ellsworth
In her 87th year


will be held from the residence of her daughter Mrs. Jefferson Steele, on Monday, November 19th, proceeding to the Mennonite Church, where service will be held at 2 0'clock p.m.

Interment at Overholt's Cemetery

I am very fortunate to have copies of letters written by Elizabeth in the last weeks of her life to her son, Ross Ellsworth and her grandchildren. Written in a frail hand with no punctuation and varied capitalization, the letters suggest the sadness of a dying woman who knows she will never see her son and grandchildren again in this life. They are also a last witness by a woman who hopes to leave her descendants a legacy of Christian faith.

Transcript (apologies for any inconsistent capitalization and punctuation choices) of letter dated November 10, 1917, one week before her death, from Elizabeth Stoner Ellsworth to her grandson, Reginald Ellsworth (my great-grandfather, whom I knew), who was probably living in Detroit according to an addressed envelope found with the letters. I am sad to read that the family did not visit Elizabeth that summer before her death. I wonder why? Was there a history of tension and hurt between Ross and his mother? Did they not really think she would be leaving them in the coming year? Was it simply too expensive for the Ross Ellsworth family to make the trip? I am glad, as the funeral card indicates, that Elizabeth spent her final days with her daughter, Arabella Ellsworth Steele.

Port Colborne
Nov 10 – 1917

Reginald dear grandson

I will try and pen a few lines to you to let you know that I do not forget you. I thought to see you all this summer but was disappointed so now I do not look ahead. Your father told me that you read the New Testament through. Dear Reginald that was not time thrown away. Jesus said search the scriptures for in them ye think ye have Eternal life and they are they which testify of me and there is no other name under Heaven but the name of Jesus Christ where by ye can be saved and God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten son that he that believeth in Him shall not perish but have Eternal life and that life is in His son. Jesus said unto his disciples before he went away it is expedient for you that I go away if I go not away the Comforter will not come to you but if I go away I will send Him unto you and He will bring to your remembrance all things that I said unto you. I will [ill.] a beautiful verse saints and angels formed in concert singing the praises of the Lamb while the blissful saints of heaven sweetly echo fourth his name Hallelujah sinners here may do the same.

Dear Reginald I do not know if you can read my writing. I remain lovingly yours,

Grandmother E. Ellsworth

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